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Tragedy of the common web


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The tragedy of the commons is an economics theory that can be applied to a number of fields, including ecology, anthropology, gaming theory, politics and sociology. Find out how this theory applies to the web!

Published in: Marketing, Technology, Design
  • Sur le blogue de CALIMAQ SILEX
    Grande victoire aujourd'hui au Parlement Européen dans ce qui s'annonçait comme le vote le plus important pour Internet depuis le rejet de l'accord ACTA. Les eurodéputés se sont prononcés en faveur d'un texte consacrant le neutralité du net, alors que la menace était très grande que par le biais de 'services spécialisés' mis en place par les fournisseurs d'accès, Internet ne finisse découpé et vendu en morceaux.

    Cette approche a été rejetée, ce qui signifie qu'Internet reste un bien commun ! Cette victoire n'a pu être remportée qu'avec la mobilisation exceptionnelle des citoyens qui ont fait entendre leur voie auprès des députés européens.
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Tragedy of the common web

  1. 1. COMMON WEB Tragedy of the @CynthiaSavard @TP1 *Respect, authenticity and design Presentation delivered during the Web À Québec conference on March 21, 2014. 1- Notes were added after the presentation to facilitate understanding for the reader. 2- References can be found on the last page of this presentation. 3- Originally, my presentation was called, "Respect, authenticity and design".
  2. 2. Tragedy of the commons Competition for access to limited resources leads to a conflict between self interest and the common good; the rational consequences of which create a lose-lose situation. Garrett Hardin The tragedy of the commons is an economics theory that can be applied to a number of fields, including ecology, anthropology, gaming theory, politics and sociology. In this presentation, I will show you how this theory applies to the web.
  3. 3. SHEEP For example, In order to illustrate his theory, Hardin used the example of a pasture shared by many herdsmen, who each bring their sheep here to graze. [The following part of the presentation was animated.]
  4. 4. All herdsmen know very well that if there are too many animals in the pasture, grass stocks will become depleted, to the point of making grazing impossible. Although the benefits that these herds generate will be enjoyed by one herdsman, the cost of depleted grass stocks is shared by all herdsmen. Since costs are shared, but benefits are not, each herdsman is thus inclined to protect his own interests. More sheep in a herd means more benefits. So each individual thinks about his own costs and his own benefits, convincing himself that his actions will not have a significant impact on global resources. This kind of behaviour may seem reasonable to the herdsman and justifies pursuing his self interest despite the decreasing amount of grass in the pasture, which will inevitably result in the total depletion of common resources. HARDIN, Garrett, The Tragedy of the Commons. Science ,13 December 1968.
  5. 5. Limitations: The pasture has a maximum capacity. Once there are more than 5 sheep, the pasture cannot renew itself.
  6. 6. Each herdsman is focussed on his own self interest (that is, having more sheep).
  7. 7. Each one thinks, "If I don’t take advantage, the other herdsman certainly will, so I had better get moving!"
  8. 8. The tragedy (dwindling of common resources) is inevitable.
  9. 9. Solutions to the tragedy Laws Permits Privatization Self-regulationThere are many solutions to the tragedy of the commons. Namely: laws, permits, privatization and self-regulation.
  10. 10. Common good Self interest Regulation +1
  11. 11. Email Spam Law C-28 +1 On the web If we apply this concept to the web, we find numerous examples, including email, online file sharing services (Napster), social media and free services requiring registration. These are all services (albeit intangible) that are limited, but the price to be paid is not always monetary (service is shut down, loss of pleasure in using the service, time needed to complete a task, etc.).
  12. 12. Similarly to the environment, external regulation is not enough. Each one of us must act to protect our common resources.
  13. 13. Bit Torrent file sharing Hacking Intellectual property law +1 Otherwise… Napster is shut down
  14. 14. User confidence Dark patterns User apathy +1 On e-commerce sites User confidence is a limited resource. In fact, for creators of e-commerce sites, it is a most precious resource. Without that confidence, users won’t make online purchases.
  15. 15. For us, that means no more dark patterns. The problem is that many website creators and developers use deceptive practices to increase results.
  16. 16. Dark patterns?
  17. 17. for using flames as a transition. +1 [Yes, I used flames as a transition in the original presentation]
  18. 18. Dark patterns Dark patterns are elements used in interface design to trick users into doing things on a website, such as inadvertently signing up for an e-letter or paying more on a purchase.
  19. 19. These tactics boost the price of your average shopping cart.
  20. 20. Example: Uhaul The advertised price is $19.95.
  21. 21. Since I don’t need any accessories, I click on "Continue". Problem 1 - Default settings indicate that I want 12 blankets and one dolly. Problem 2 - To remove these items from my cart, I have to click on the text and not on the big yellow button.
  22. 22. Next page, same problem. The site once again, by default, adds a large amount of accessories to my order.
  23. 23. The total is now $104.60. That’s about $80 more than what was advertised.
  24. 24. It also increases the number of site visitors.
  25. 25. For example, videos (often posted on Facebook) that require you to share it with all your friends before you can view the clip.
  26. 26. We’ve all taken the bait at least once.
  27. 27. It also boosts the visibility of a service.
  28. 28. Did my friend just invite me to play Farm Heroes Saga? Seems strange. It’s a child’s game, isn’t it? Did he truly invite me to play or did his young daughter invite me "by accident"?
  29. 29. It collects information about users.
  30. 30. Etsy can access my information, that’s okay. But why does it need to access information about my friends? And why do they need to know about my education or my friend’s relationship status?
  31. 31. It increases the number of subscribers.
  32. 32. Many sites still use opt-out, rather than opt-in, practices. For example, for "Presumed organ donation", visit: http:// Thepotentialimpactofanoptoutsystemfororgandonationinth eUK.pdf and ! "The Taskforce strongly believes that successful implementation will deliver a 50% increase in organ donor numbers within five years."
  33. 33. But this isn’t really illegal, is it? #tragedy These practices aren’t illegal. But they still lead to tragedy and depletion of resources!
  34. 34. +1 Acquiring another sheep isn’t illegal either.
  35. 35. But if users become more apathetic and don’t use our services, then we have a lose-lose situation.
  36. 36. For us, this means using creative patterns.
  37. 37. Creative patterns?
  38. 38. Creative patterns are elements used in interface design that foster emotional engagement among users and create promoters of the website. These elements inspire visitors to say 
 "Wow!" and encourage them to share. See also, #CupcakeEffect. -Cynthia Savard To read about the Cupcake Effect, it’s here: https://
  39. 39. for referring to my own work. +1
  40. 40. C lear A musing M emorable P ersonalized U seful S urprising #Campus approach: Designing for emotion
  41. 41. for creating a fun acronym! #CAMPUS +1
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  47. 47.
  48. 48. "A graphic that changed my worldview…"
  49. 49. Will it take more time? O!entimes. Will it cost more? Sometimes. Why should I do it? Well… !
  50. 50. Because, like grass in the pasture, user confidence is a limited resource.
  51. 51. @CynthiaSavard @TP1 THANKS!
  52. 52. References Tragedy of the commons On the web: Sheep: UHaul: Roller coaster: Shark attack: FutureShop: Examples: